Sustainability Report Cards: A+ Idea or a Fail?

Extra Space Storage

I believe that after completing school, some of us still crave the old report card. Or perhaps just those of us who made good grades miss report cards? Sure, you may receive an employee review, sometimes accompanied by a bonus for a job well done. Other times, independent organizations create grades for us. And that brings me to green ratings systems.

No one out there has designed a green rating system specifically for giving grades for sustainability of self-storage companies. That may come one day. For now, Extra Space Storage likes to give you our own sustainability updates to let you know how far we’ve traveled down the green road.

Who’s Creating Report Cards

Other companies are trying to take green grading a bit further. For example, Walmart is in the process of creating its own Sustainability Index to help inform their customers about the sustainability of the products they sell.

 

Walmart’s process involves them asking lots of questions of their suppliers, with the hopeful end result being to improve the “sustainability performance” of their customers’ favorite products. Of course, this index won’t provide a grade for sustainability of Walmart as a company, but it may eventually give customers information to make more sustainable choices when shopping for products sold at the store.

 

Who’s Complaining about Report Cards

But are sustainability report cards in general a good idea or not? This spring, the Sustainable Endowment Institute suspended its College Sustainability Report Card.

 

The Chronicle of Higher Education notes that the College Sustainability Report Card was “one of the first and most controversial” of several systems to rate the sustainability of colleges in recent years. The Princeton Review and Sierra magazine, among others, run similar green report cards for colleges.

 

The report card from the Sustainable Endowment Institute was suspended so the organization could instead focus on the Billion Dollar Green Challenge, which is intended to motivate colleges to invest in projects to improve energy efficiency. That change highlighted a big criticism of green rating systems: Directors can spend so much time filling out surveys and forms that it detracts from time available to use on actual sustainability projects! College administrators also question the methodology behind green rating systems, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.

 

Getting away from the time-stealing paperwork trap to spend more energy completing actual green projects, and not being subjected to someone else’s methodology are acceptable arguments for organizations creating their own sustainability report cards. And several colleges are in the process of doing just that.

 

But I’ll get back to the self-storage world for a couple of seconds. Even without an official “report card,” I have visions of great grades for Extra Space Storage dancing in my head ­– with solar energy sparkles on top! And I’m excited to continue informing you about the energy efficiency initiatives ongoing at Extra Space Storage.

 

Would you like to see a sustainability report card designed to rate self-storage companies on their green efforts?

 

Do you think companies should create their own sustainability report cards, or spend time completing surveys and forms for independent ratings?

 

Brent Hardy

 

Sustainability Report Cards: A+ Idea or a Fail? by

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August 1, 2012

About Brent Hardy

VP Facilities Management Extra Space Storage Brent Hardy has been with Extra Space Storage since 2001. He currently oversees all corporate construction & facilities management activities for Extra Space Storage. Brent has been the driving force for corporate responsibility with energy management and sustainability programs. His successful management in these areas has directly contributed to the growth of Extra Space Storage. Brent’s green initiatives have included solar power, implementing energy efficient lighting systems and daylight harvesting on a corporate scale for over 800 properties. He enjoys fishing, water skiing, avoiding airplanes and spending time with his wife and four daughters. Brent began his career in self-storage after spending several years with various firms in construction and operations management both in Salt Lake and New York City.

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